Barragán Captures America's Information Overload

Barragán Captures America's Information Overload

There’s nothing more American than information overload, and Victor Barragán’s return to NYFW captured this chaos spot on. Remember the last TikTok you watched? The last headline you read? Can you make it to the bottom of this article without distraction? What should I order on Uber Ea– Construction fencing covered the walls, layered with penis-shaped graffiti, old iconic cartoons, newspaper clippings and the brand’s own advertisements. Guests stood behind metal barricades, with trash covering the floor: Water bottles, dollar bills, metal cans and food trays. Walking right off the streets of New York, the inside didn’t look much different — all intentional, of course.

The Mexican designer has always approached fashion with a much-needed “sense of humor, irony and sarcasm.” This season, he cut through our “vapid consuming era” using looks that piled on familiar iconography with some cool, albeit grotesque twists. Of course, there was red, white and blue, and star patterns sprinkled throughout as obligatory, entry-level commentary. Then, some camouflage mixed in, graphic references to weapons and senseless violence, and a few cross-shaped accessories (some as nipple piercings). Plus: bad teeth, mullets, an update on Kate Gosselin’s 2008 “mom cut,” post-op bruised lips and duct tape on literally everything.

As if to also feed the beast he was critiquing, Barragán’s collection included several pieces that’d immediately go viral on any feed — no nuance or context required. (And they did.) “Meth” and “Canceled Twice” were printed on buckle belts and t-shirts, the latter of which was worn days after by Doja Cat at a Fashion Week afterparty. “The only sin in NYC is not having any money,” one shirt declared, designed to appropriate sports jerseys. Another hoodie said “J’Adore Ur Hole.” The silver-haired model wore a belt that read, “Homophobe,” inches above unzipped trousers to reveal briefs with the brand logo repeated across. Barragán’s designs are always sexy and this time that meant perversions of corporate office wear (ties, pinstriped shirts, briefcases).

Did you make it this far? Below, PAPER caught up with Barragán to dive more into the "catharsis" and "rage" of his latest collection. "After chaos comes the light," he says.

You’ve been away from NYFW for a while. What have you learned about yourself and the brand in that time, and what energy did you want to bring to this season here in New York?

My main point-of-view was to create a conversation of "storefront diversity" and feel the freedom to try a new narrative about what it is to be a "Mexican designer." I think our lives are controlled with community guidelines IRL at this moment and we feel scared to be canceled for just being human.

Obviously, the statement tees, hoodies and belts are all over social media, and Doja Cat has already worn one. Do you consider virality and do you think designers need those moments to survive today?

I believe as small brands we need our icons to survive in this vapid consuming era, and with these staple styles we are building a business within our capacity. Our sense of humor, irony, sarcasm has been there since the beginning when we started as ytinifninfinity in 2015, showing in NYC that narrative about our brand. It’s our signature.

Coming off an insane week, I can’t help but think the way we’re consuming fashion and ideas is unhealthy and unsustainable. We see everything and process nothing. What’re your thoughts on that and how was this show challenging those conventions?

I wanna stay away from the calendar and do my own thing at my own time. Don’t rush the ideas, make it last. I think as a small brand we need to dictate those rules to survive, and enjoy the process of designing and creating.

A lot of the looks felt like they were leaning into American archetypes, but from a comedic and critical perspective. The Karen wigs, redneck undertones, business attire. Was there a larger statement you were looking to make as it pertains to American culture?

Cultural shock is the main inspiration of my work and for me to decontextualize the meaning of archetypes is really interesting to keep exploring, We can create a new meaning of everything that we see out there and that’s our "freedom." My main statement was, "This is a free country, right?"

How did the set design play into all these ideas? I loved that models were stepping onto the bottles and creating all that noise. Plus, them walking out of the porta-potties and onto the runway...

Woodstock ’99 was the main inspiration for the rage of the youth. Catharsis after COVID has been crazy. I believe after chaos comes the light.

Photos courtesy of Collis Torrington/Barragán